Monday, February 11, 2008


IM. Magic letters known all over by people on the Internet. And that accompanying sound, which tells everyone else at work you are chatting with a friend when you really should be doing something else.

I’ve seen college students with four IM boxes going at once on their screens. Possibly I’ve done that myself, but it’s lost in the mists of time; on the Internet, two years is back in the mist. Ten years, dinosaurs were roaming the earth sending e-mails to stegosauruses.

When your brother lives 600 miles away, as mine does (and, not so coincidentally, so does his), e-mail is fine, but for an afternoon or evening chat, nothing is better than IM. Well, a phone call is better, but that burns up the quarters rather quickly, while typing on the screen is free and you can see how the conversation is going.

What a friend of mind finds odd is how the screen conversation is usually a line off. That is, my brother will ask a question while I am commenting on something he said a line before. Then I will answer him while he replies to whatever I said a line earlier. I told her, “You get used to it.” Sometimes we chat in order, other times we’re a line or two apart; we understand what we are saying.

There is a sound for when he comes online, another for when he sends a message and a third for when he leaves. Even one for when I send something to him, which I silenced because, oddly enough, I know when I sent it and don’t need to hear a “bee-doop.”